Purdue Professors Unhappy with President’s Acquisition of For-Profit Kaplan University

, Spencer Irvine, 3 Comments

image screenshot from Purdue University YouTube video of Mitch Daniels’ speech

Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University and a former Republican governor of Indiana, recently struck a deal with the for-profit college Kaplan University. Purdue acquired the for-profit college for $1 up front, in exchange for future reimbursements to Kaplan’s owner, Graham Holdings. Graham Holdings is owned by the former owners of the Washington Post, the Graham family. Graham Holdings could receive up to 12.5% of annual earnings in the deal.

Purdue, under the deal with Kaplan, adds 32,000 students and 3,000 employees and will move them into a new, yet-to-be-named online university. Faculty members were notified of the deal an hour before it was announced, which is why they passed a resolution opposing it.

Purdue faculty members passed a University Senate resolution to condemn Daniels’ deal that called for Daniels and the Purdue Board of Trustees to avoid making any more decisions about the Purdue-Kaplan acquisition. Inside Higher Ed suggested that the faculty’s move could influence the accreditation agency in charge of approving the deal, as “accreditors generally expect a prominent faculty role in academic-related decisions.”

Faculty members also claim the new university will be exempt from public records laws, and questioned the formation and staffing of the new university’s budget committee as well as its accountability.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) featured guest bloggers on its academia blog who blasted Daniels’ deal with Kaplan University. Rachel E. Hile, an associate professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne, criticized the decision because, she argued, it is boosting corporate profits under the façade of “education access:”

“I believe that every group tasked with responding to this deal can find a reason to oppose it, because it’s a cynical bid to convert public money to corporate profits under the cloak of benevolently providing educational access.”

Bill Mullen, another guest blogger for the AAUP and is a professor of English and American Studies at Purdue University, entitled his piece, “Mitch Daniels wants to sell the soul of public education: Purdue faculty must stop him.” Mullen outlined the issues facing Kaplan and for-profit colleges, ranging from a 7% six-year graduation rate at Kaplan, its legal disputes and the debt that students incur from attending for-profit colleges (without giving an exact figure of said debt).

He made no specific mention of debt figures that students incur while attending public or nonprofit colleges and universities.